Christian Hosoi. Lance Mountain. Natas Kaupas. For most of you these names don't mean a thing, but I see Craig nodding his head in the back there. Growing up, these guys were my heroes. What do they all have in common? They were the cool skateboarders when I was growing up. For a good chunk of my childhood until going away to college, I lived in Huntington Beach, CA (miles and mere minutes from where Craig and Patrick now live). Orange County, where HB is located, was (and might still be) one of the most conservative counties in the country. The airport is named after a cowboy actor, John Wayne. When I left California, the median home price in OC was 1 million dollars. Now my mom was no desperate housewife and we didn't live in a mansion, but it was hands down one of the best places to grow up. One mile from the beach (reached easily and safely on bike via the Santa Ana River Trail) and 45 minutes from skiiable mountains.
In that environment, attracting the attention of the police was pretty simple: pick up a skateboard (and later, dress like a punk rocker). As a typical middle class teen, I wanted to rebel and skateboarding was the avenue until I discovered that dyeing my hair and wearing crazy clothing was a quicker ticket to outrage. So I skated and thumbed my nose at authority, driving around with my friends looking for cement banks, large diameter pipes or, the holy grail, an empty swimming pool.
What brought on this trip down the memory lane of my misspent youth? Actually, it was a documentary I watched called "Dogtown and Z-Boys," about a skateboard team from Santa Monica who changed what it meant to be a skateboarder, from a hula hoop type fad to danger in the streets. They were that cool and radical and dangerous.
I wasn't anywhere near as cool or radical or dangerous, but it did help create my identity, along with punk rock, which came along later. One of the things I loved about skateboarding was that it literally could be done anywhere, except where forbidden (which only made it that much more fun). In my garage right now sit an old ramp board as well as a long board, which is great fun just cruising down the sidewalk or on mellow hills. As my kids turn 3 or so, I have been introducing them to the joys of skateboarding, which they seem to hesitantly enjoy. It has been years since I've ridden "vertical" (on ramps, pipes or pools), but if my kids ever show the desire, I'll be right there with them.
Do you have something from your youth that you still enjoy doing or, if you have kids, you hope they will pick up?